If you think essential services are best delivered by private companies, boy do I have a Rogers bundle package to sell you.

Last week’s Rogers outage—which took out 911 calls, banking, transit, and 25 percent of internet traffic—is a natural consequence of letting just a few Canadian companies dominate an entire sector. [photos of people scrambling for access at starbucks, etc]

Today, the Big 3 privately own and operate almost all of the digital infrastructure we rely on.

When one of them has a problem, we feel it across the country. 

As we speak, Rogers is actually trying to increase its control and dominance by buying Shaw, Canada’s 4th largest telecoms company. 

Rogers has been arguing everywhere that this deal will “generate substantial efficiencies for the Canadian economy.” 

How’s this for efficiency: had the deal already gone through, this is how much larger the outage might have been.

By controlling so much of Canada’s wireless service, the Big 3 are also able to collectively raise prices to cuththroat levels.

Among 168 providers from around the world, guess who has the “least competitive prices”? Rogers, Bell and Telus.

That’s how they made $6.3 billion in profits last year alone. No wonder Rogers doesn’t want to talk about its monopoly.

Canada’s regulator—the CRTC—is supposed to keep corporate monopolies in check.

In 2019, they made a ruling to increase competition and lead to cheaper internet. But then this happened.

That’s Ian Scott, CRTC chair. And that’s Mirko Bibic, the Bell CEO.

Having a beer in an Ottawa pub, one week after Bell appealed the regulators ruling.

After a flood of visits from such lobbyists, the regulator reversed their decision. 

Internet and phone service is too essential to be left in the hands of these corporate dynasties and their government enablers.

They should instead be operated as a public good, in the interests of people rather than profit—like water, education, the postal office, and healthcare.

The idea isn’t so far-fetched—in fact, we already have a successful model in Saskatchewan, where a public provider founded in 1908 now serves a million people.

Thanks to SaskTel, wireless plans in the province are up to $70 cheaper than elsewhere. It regularly earns tens of millions of dollars for the government. And it has invested in infrastructure in rural and Indigenous areas, which private companies don’t find it profitable to serve.

And a cell phone provider that’s won top marks for customer service? Imagine that.

We should scale up Sasktel, by building a national publicly-owned telecommunications network.

But to really harness the benefits of public ownership, we would need to go one step further: nationalize the Big 3 outright.

With a public interest mandate, we could re-channel their giant profits into making service affordable to everyone—and not to mention ensuring they don’t skimp on backup plans the next time there’s an outage.

A note from our editorial team
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